An excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Nice? It's the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing - about - in - boats; messing----'
From 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Where are we now?

Day 11 (29-June): The last bit down the Stratford to Stratford-on-Avon was accomplished with a little angst because of the, in my opinion, appalling state of the infrastructure of the canal.  Coping stones lose and missing, paddle gear that took herculean efforts to wind and gates that would open and close of their own volition. That’s such a shame when the environment of the canal is so beautiful.  I have a call in to BW (or is it CaRT now) to ‘complain’ and invite them to crew with me back to Kingswood Junction when the boat is finished being painted – let’s hope they accept the challenge and see what it is like from a boater’s perspective! I am not convinced they will accept the challenge but live in hope that they will.

Apart from the above a relatively quiet and uneventful trip down the Wilmcote flight to Stratford.

My thanks to Ray for his help - it was invaluable.

Locks: 12 (179 total)
Miles 3: (129 total)
Tunnels 0: (3 total)
Aqueducts 0 (3 total) 

Day 10 (28-June): A planned short day today as we were asked not to arrive in Stratford before 16:00 on Friday. So just down from Wootton Wawen to Wilmcote which took about 2½ hours. There were lots of boats going down for the Stratford River festival - oh and we passed Jane and David Brixey on Rowan this morning heading out of Stratford.  Dave seems to have hurt his left arm (in a 'collar and cuff' sling) but still able to steer the boat.  We saw their old boat, Jack Merrick, at Milton Keynes.

Locks: 1 (167 total)
Miles: 3 (126)
Aqueducts: 1 (Edstone)

Day 9 (27-June):  We were in no hurry this morning but left the Grand Union at 09:00 and made our way onto the Stratford Canal to pumpout (I had a BW pumpout card) and top up with water.  Water was no problem but the pumpout didn't work as the machine (Lee San) wanted 25 unit cards and mine (bought for a Lee San machine in Limehouse) was a 20 unit card. Also the washing machine, dryer and showers advertised as being at the junction have been removed - come on BW (and/or CaRT) this is the kind of thing that we rely on - please get this stuff working and don't tell me I can get a pumpout card some miles further up the cut - it doesn't work I am afraid.

Anyway had a very pleasant trip down the Stratford, it is quite beautiful and rivals the Basingstoke, but those lower gates in most cases are very heavy for their size being a narrow canal - I wonder why that is the case?

Moored up now at Wootton Wawen having had an excellent pumpout at the AngloWelsh base there - thanks Craig.

Don't need to be in Stratford-on-Avon until Friday afternoon so taking life quietly and so pleased we put in the hard yards early on to give us a relaxing time now.

Locks: 18 (166 total)
Miles: 6 (123 total)
Aqueducts: 2

Day 8 (26-June): We were toying with going up the Saltisford Arm today but when a single boat went past and asked if we would like to share up Hatton we jumped at the chance, shot off our moorings like a startled rabbit, and had a trouble free climb up the Hatton 21.  I bought Ray a coffee and a 'sticky chocolate cake' at the top.  We then moved on (in the rain but only light this time) to Kingswood Junction where we will start down the Stratford Canal tomorrow.

We are catching up with E-Mails and watching the tennis from Wimbledon!

Locks: 21 (all Hatton) (148 total)
Miles: 7 (117 total)
Tunnels: 1 (Shrewley)

Day 7 (25-June): A quiet start today. We said our goodbyes to Chris on Merchant as he continued up the Oxford and we the Grand Union. We spent a little time in Braunston village doing some shopping and then we set off for the Cape Locks at the foot of the 21 Hatton Locks.

A long day at 10 hours which ended with a very pleasant evening in the Cape of Good Hope pub with Ray's daughter and her partner.

The painter in Stratford has suggested we don't arrive before Saturday so we can take a more leisurely approach now.

Locks: 25
Miles: 19

Day 6 (24-June): Off at 07:45 (before Church) and straight into the 2,800m Blisworth Tunnel.  After the heavy rain last night there was a lot of water in the tunnel.  38 mins and we were out the other side on the slog up to the Buckby 6 locks. We passed Jules and Johnny on Ella from the same moorings as Leo No2 on the Wey just after Blisworth. Then past the Northampton Arm and into Braunston tunnel (I decided to have a hot shower as Ray was steering!).

We didn't share with Chris on Merchant going down the Braunston 7 as he arrived at the top lock before us and there was a boat waiting for him.  We went down by ourselves but I was flabbergasted to find a boat waiting for us in Lock 3 crewed by some very good friends, Martin and Linda. Martin was my General Manager in BA many years ago - we had such a laugh remembering the old days!

On to Braunston where the Historic Narrowboat Rally was taking place (like being in heaven for ex working boat enthusiasts) - we managed to find an excellent mooring.  Met up with friends Jan and Frank (NB Havoc) and Peter Munt who used to be a ranger on the Basingstoke Canal on his boat Hare.

Locks: 14 (127 total)
Miles: 20 (117 total)
Tunnels: 2 (Blisworth and Braunston)

Day 5 (23-June): Another good day today.  Off at 08:00 in company with Chris on Merchant. There were some locks immediately after we left and then the Solbury 3 followed by the long and boring pound through Milton Keynes (but we did manage to see and photograph Mick and Suzanne's old boat Dora Venus).

Dora Venus
A hire boat got to within 20 meters of us and then slewed across the cut which kept us on our toes - he was last seen hard aground trying to get unstuck by applying plenty of forward power - best of luck to him.

Finally up the Stoke Bruerne 7 and a top up of water.  We are now moored just before the entrance to Blisworth Tunnel.

Locks: 14 (102 total)
Miles: 25 (91 total)

Day 4 (22-June):  A long day today - exactly 10 hours but we did cover a lot of ground - Berkhamsted to Leighton Buzzard - 15 miles and 28 locks.  We teamed up with Chris on Merchant (a new working boat built by RW Davis - Rodney it has a Gardner 4LW in it).  

Very windy and really difficult trying to get into Grove Lock as the two hire boats wouldn't come out and we were struggling in the very strong crosswind.

Ray and Chris are going out for a beer and it looks as if we will team up with Chris again tomorrow.

Locks: 28 (88 total)
Miles: 15 (71 total)

Day 3 (21-June): Moored Berkhamsted at 15:30 after an 08:30 start.  It's rained on and off today so we decided to stop here (and there are 3 pubs).  Came up the last half-dozen or so locks with a very nice Australian couple (Mick and Alison) who are moored behind us.

Lovely E-Mail from my friend Suzanne (hope husband Mick gets better very soon) asking if the word I used yesterday (welded) was misspelt and should have been wedded - crew threatened to jump ship if Suzanne was right!

Boat behaving herself beautifully but what is quite surprising how few boats there are around - we have probably passed seven or eight boats on the move since Brentford on Tuesday - we find that quite odd.
We have had one boat cause us problems - a 'liveaboard' without an engine who was pushing his boat with a hooked boat pole.  He was very odd and continually left upper gates and paddle gear open.  Lucky we managed to get past him on both occasions we met him - now hopefully he is well behind us.

The CanalOmeter still continues to perform well - Herbie not to keen on our suggested name changes which we quite understand.

Locks: 19 (45 total)
Miles: 8 (47 total)

Day 2 (20-June): Another excellent day - we were off at 08:30 (and so pleased we had dispensed with Hanwell last night) and managed to get cheap (90p) diesel at Uxbridge Boat Centre along with excellent service.  We have used the Herbie CanalOmeter a lot today and decided to rechristen it the HerbieOmeter or perhaps the the CorbettOmeter (perhaps a better ring to it).  It has proved invaluable.
We are moored tonight above Hunton Bridge top lock so another long day bit well worth it - Ray wants Herbie to add in a very good pub (Kings Lodge Hotel) just above Hunton Top Lock at bridge 162 please for the next issue.

Ray and I are still talking and laughing so things are going well - we have welded ourselves into a good team.

Locks: 17 (36 total)
Miles: 17 (39 total)

Day 1 (19-June): An excellent day today.  We left the Wey at 09:15 and locked out onto the Thames - running quite fast. We attempted to go into Shepperton Marina but decided, with the river in the state it was, the discretion was the better part of valour and pulled out when almost under the willow tree.  It wasn't very nice there.

On down the Thames to Kingston where we did a little bit of food shopping and then down to Teddington where they suggested we lock through about an hour before high tide.  That proved a benefit as we made it through Brentford Gauging lock at 16:00 and then, having consulted the oracle (CanalOmeter) pushed on to Bulls Bridge where we arrived at 20:15. 10 out of 10 to CanalOmeter.  Well done Herbie.

A good day - we are both quite tired.

Locks: 19
Miles: 22

1 comment:

  1. The southern Grand Union is very underrated we think and it is not at all unusual to see so few boats, that's one of the reasons we like it so much :-)
    Glad the ?ometer is being helpful
    Kath (nb Herbie)